‘Who do we love more – mom or dad?’: Russia’s allies are preparing for civil strife

Vladimir Kulagin

Not everything is ca-lm in the CSTO – at the summit in Du-shanbe, the President of Kyrgyzstan called for w-orking out scenarios in the event of an attack by member states against each other. This rhetoric was the result of the Taj-ik-Kyrgyz border conflict. The approaches of Bishkek and Dushanbe a-lso differ in relation to Af-ghanistan. Gazeta.Ru te-lls whether the contradictions between the two co-untries-allies of Russia can harm the military alliance.

At the CSTO summit in Dushanbe, in which Russi-an President Vladimir Putin took part by video link, Kyrgyzstan made people remember its spring conflict with Tajikistan, which claimed more than 50 lives.

According to the President of the country Sadyr Japarov, the tension on the border still persists. In this regard, Kyrgyzstan proposed to develop a mechanism of action in the organization in the event of an attack by one CSTO member state on another.

Commenting on Japarov’s words to Gazeta.Ru, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee Alexander Sherin expressed the opinion that Russia needs to learn to react to a conflict between allies and third countries, for example, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and only then “to a conflict between two allies”. At the same time, the deputy did not see much sense in the initiative of the Kyrgyz. “I think that these contradictions between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan do not in any way affect the defense capability and security of Russia. Of course, the CSTO members should be a united team and stand up for each other. If there is any friction, then we should try to resolve it. But to develop a mechanism of action if one CSTO country attacks another .. This does not correspond to the principles of the Treaty, which contains the meaning of collective security from an external aggressor, ”the deputy said.

According to Sherin, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan should independently resolve their conflict, and Russia could act as a neutral arbiter in this process.

“But they definitely need to find a common language. Today, threats from a common aggressor are much more real than ever before, and Russia should not be placed in an uncomfortable position under such conditions. It’s like in a family – who do you love more, mom or dad, son or daughter? It is not right. How can Russia take sides? ” Sherin said. Stanislav Pritchin, a senior researcher at the Center for Post-Soviet Studies at the IMEMO RAS, was also skeptical about Japarov’s rhetoric.

“In fact, Japarov’s proposal looks somewhat absurd, because it is assumed that the countries in the union have similar positions and jointly respond to external threats. But it is known that Kyrgyzstan in this regard is generally a country with a special approach. After all, when there were still clashes in Osh in 2010, its then leader Roza Otunbayeva also proposed to involve the CSTO in resolving the conflict. The current proposal is an attempt to transfer responsibility for the unwillingness to resolve issues with their neighbors to another level. Although it is very difficult to imagine what mechanisms of the CSTO will help resolve the conflict between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, ”Pritchin said.

Among the real causes of the conflict, Pritchin singled out an unresolved issue with a clear boundary, different approaches of local communities and joint water use – to name just a few of them. The analyst believes that Russia will not support the initiative of Kyrgyzstan.

“It is also important to understand that Tajikistan is at the forefront of the fight against threats from Afghanistan, since the country has the largest border with it in Central Asia. And Kyrgyzstan does not have it. Accordingly, the main military support from Russia comes from Tajikis-tan, which raises concerns in Kyrgyzstan – suddenly t-his power could turn aga-inst it in the event of a conflict, ”the expert explained.

Indeed, following the summit, CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas again emphasized that in the context of the threat from Afghanistan, the organization will give priority attention to Tajikistan. So, in October, near the Tajik-Afghan border, a series of major exercises of the Collective Forces of the CSTO will be held – “Search-2021”, “Echelon-2021”, “Interaction-2021” and “Cobalt-2021”.

What about the Taliban?

The situation in Afghan-istan after the Taliban came to power was also the topic of the CSTO summit. It turned out that the approaches of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan do not coincide here as well.

Dushanbe takes an extremely tough stance, rejecting all possible contacts with the new government in Kabul. Tajik Presi-dent Emomali Rahmon has said several times that official Dushanbe does not recognize the Afghan government, in which there is no place for national minorities, including Afghan Tajiks. Japarov, speaking at the CSTO summit, although he pointed out the threats to the region that arose after the formation of a theocratic state in Afghanistan, advocated a dialogue with the Taliban.

HSE professor Andrei Kazantsev explained to Gazeta.Ru that such discrepancies are associated with different levels of ties between the two peoples with Afghanistan.

“Tajiks are the second largest and most influential ethnic group in Afghanistan after the Pashtuns. More Tajiks live in Afghanistan than in Tajikistan itself. And traditionally Afghan Tajiks represent a force in opposition to the Taliban, and therefore the leadership of Tajikistan cannot but support its people. In addition, there are patriotic groups in Tajikistan that support Afghan Tajiks. President Emomali Rahmon cannot ignore all this, ”the expert says.

Kazantsev singled out among other reasons for Dushanbe’s tough stance towards the Taliban, the factor of religious migration from Tajikistan to Afghanistan. According to him, many extremists and terrorists left precisely for the sake of joining the Taliban or organizations close to it, and then completely guarded the border of the two countries from the Afghan side. At the same time, Kazantsev does not believe that Rakhmon goes beyond the conventional framework that Russia has outlined.

“Yes, the Russian Embassy in Afghanistan is trying to establish contacts with the Taliban, but we are strengthening the border at the same time. Rahmon’s position is within the acceptable range. Now, if one of the CSTO members recognizes the Taliban, and Rahmon refuses to do this, it will be another question, ”the expert summed up.

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